Sunday, June 24, 2012

It takes a village…

It’s summer and I know I should be switching off but my mind doesn’t always work that way or do as it is told.

As a business owner I find I am always thinking, contemplating my next move, next chapter, whatever.  Staying settled and happy with the status quo has never been my modus operandi.  

No matter what job I have had, I have always been planning ahead of myself.  In fact, when I worked at Today’s Parent, the magazine planned six months in advance.  So we would be writing about Christmas in June, and managing winter photo shoots in the heat of the summer.

In one position, I was often dreaming up new schemes, when in truth what the organization needed was some stability and a sound foundation, not the team going off on yet another tangent or project I had concocted.   So I know the perils of constantly changing just because you are bored.

And as entrepreneurs that can easily happen. It is the thrill of the start-up, developing new concepts and ideas that excites many of us, not the day-to-day running of a business, which admittedly cannot be overlooked if the business is to survive.

All of which speaks to the need to build a team that draws in people who actually love the detail, who truly blossom in the specifics.   For me it is the creative process of coming up with programs and services that sparks and ignites my energy.  In fact if I am being really honest, there are times when I enjoy the planning more than the delivery.

Whatever type of business owner you are, the key is to know yourself – your strengths and your weaknesses, and to build a solid team where your combined talents will create a stronger business.    

Now those of you who are solopreneurs may be saying “That’s all very nice Anne, but I can’t afford to hire anyone, let alone build a team.”  But you know what, you can. Look around you, there are many solopreneurs probably all feeling exactly the same way.

So why can’t you team up and support each other?  Perhaps it’s bartering services or brainstorming ideas together so you head in the right direction.  Consider co-op placements with high school or college students.  Rope in young family members to take on some of the more routine tasks.  What better way to learn the alphabet, than with filing?J

You don’t have to fly solo, and when you have people to support you, it frees you up to do what you do best.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is getting back to basics the answer?

Some days I don’t even want to watch the news, as we learn about some new atrocity that has occurred. The political unrest in many countries is almost epidemic, with an uprising of ordinary people taking extraordinary action to speak up and demand their democratic rights.

Why are so many countries rebelling against authority?  Sadly many of the leading governments appear to have been corrupt or self-serving, lining the pockets of politicians rather than looking at what was best for their citizens.

The good news is that people are speaking out, asking questions and demanding change, all with the underlying goal of positively shaping the future for their families and countries.  The bad news is that so many people have died or been injured in this quest for freedom.  

Like any rebellion or challenge to the status quo, the resulting change can only be welcomed, especially in countries where corruption has been rampant.  Yet it must be acknowledged that it will take time for these countries to function efficiently. There is no instant fix.

The economy is so volatile, with the financial bankruptcy of countries having a ripple effect globally. Sadly the impact is most felt by young people. Unemployment for youth is at an all-time high around the world, which is concerning and doesn’t bode well for our future.  And the boomers are not retiring. They can’t afford to, with many having lost their jobs or savings in investments that have tanked. 

But what about Canada, where we have grown to expect decency; where we have prided ourselves in being democratic and respectful of individual ideals?  Sadly we do not appear to be totally immune, as witnessed by the recent election irregularities, the robocalls fiasco and the misleading information on the F35 jet costs.

These are worrying times, when our whole moral and value system is put under scrutiny and perhaps we don’t measure up.  It would seem that like the other countries, our views as citizens are not always respected, valued or taken into consideration when government at all levels makes major decisions that will impact us all.

It can be depressing to reflect on what is happening globally, and in reality we can only tackle what is happening in our own back yard.  I have to believe that we will overcome these challenges and that getting back to basics will serve us well.

By basics I mean living our lives more modestly, remembering what is important and what is superfluous in creating a meaningful, rich life for ourselves and our children. It’s about getting back to our core values and beliefs as Canadians.  It’s about making sure that those who are less fortunate have an equal opportunity to get ahead in life.

We need to draw on our pride of being Canadian, to speak out and make our views known and if we don’t like the politics we see, get involved, rather than just criticizing and complaining from the sidelines.  Apathy is a dangerous bedfellow.   

And it is not just about politics.  It is about our day-to-day living and how within our communities, we can reach out and help others. When we take an interest and support others, we gain perspective on our own problems – there is always someone worse of than you and your involvement could make the difference. 

Taking action makes you feel less helpless and more in control of shaping the future, for yourself and others.

“All that we give into the lives of others, comes back into our own.”  Let’s give.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Alone on My Desert Island

I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually had my house to myself for a weekend – no husband, no children, just me and the dog.

When we decided that my husband would go to a family wedding in the UK and that I couldn’t go because the timing clashed with our conference, I was disappointed. I still am, but I confess I am fast getting over it as I enjoy this time just for me.

At first I was plotting to have a bunch of girlfriends over to party, but that idea wore thin when I thought about the work involved.  Instead I opted for a weekend alone.  Can you imagine?  I got to chose when I got up, what I wanted to eat and when, and… I got to control the remote.  How cool is that.

Actually with everyone gone, I haven’t been watching much TV, more playing my music and reading my books.  Absolute bliss, which raises the question, how can I achieve this for myself on a regular basis?  I can’t really kick the old boy out every weekend, but perhaps I can eke out some “me” time, when I do what I want and am not at the beck and call of the family.

In fact, we all need that – men and women.  It is the one thing that gets lost in this juggle to manage everything.  Time just to be, just to be me. 

So while I am sorry to miss my niece’s wedding, I am grateful to her.  She’s given me the gift of time and space for myself.  Maybe when she’s been married a while and has children, I can return the favour.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Buyer Beware

I just watched a funny skit on This Hour has 22 Minutes where people were going to great lengths to get a free cell phone – from losing an arm to giving up a kid.   Joking apart, it highlights how some industries will go to any lengths to make money and secure your business.  It is a competitive world out there.

Take the insurance industry.  A few years ago our broker advised us that we couldn’t get our house insured because I worked from home, and the only way they would cover it, was if I took out liability insurance.

No matter how I explained that the home was the administrative base, that no events or even people met there, the answer was the same. Even though the business is incorporated, they were apparently  “concerned” that someone might fall at an event and sue me, and the house would be at risk.  Reluctantly I agreed but it felt like a money grab. 

I know when I had my consulting practice we were required on certain contracts to have professional liability insurance, which was an expensive request, often in the thousands.  Again, we would argue that no one was in danger as a result of our work, we weren’t counselling anyone, just meeting with people to provide recommendations to government.  But no, it had to be in place.

Fast forward to this year, and one of our members faced the same challenge, instead this time the stakes were much higher and the cost prohibitive.  As she said, she could understand if they insured your home and if you didn’t get the liability insurance, you had to sign a waiver, but to outright refuse  home coverage unless you took out this expensive insurance policy,  felt like you were being held to ransom.

So what’s the answer?  Shop around.  There are reputable companies out there that will provide house insurance and forego the liability insurance if you work from home.  Don’t let yourself be conned or pressured into spending money on a policy that you don’t need and cannot afford.

It is somewhat ironic that we need insurance in order to protect ourselves from  unexpected dangers, but who protects us from the insurance companies?  We need to take charge of that ourselves.